What’s the elevator speech describing Delta Electronics’ market and product focus?
Delta is a fully, vertically integrated RF, microwave and millimeter wave interconnect company that services both the military and commercial marketplaces.
Our people, our processes, our reputation for quality and our abilities to collaborate with our customers to produce innovative products, to fit their needs is our forte. Once we have secured customers, they come back to us time and time again when designing their new systems. Our customer satisfaction rating is extremely high, but we do not rest on that fact. We continue to work to keep our customer relationships strong, by performing for them.
Your father incorporated Delta Electronics Manufacturing in 1955. What led him to start the company, and how did you join the business?
My father, Nick Nikitas, founded Delta Electronics Manufacturing Corporation in 1955 as a mechanism to focus on his creative and inventive energies. His desire was to control his own destiny, using a framework that gave him total flexibility to explore and exercise his mechanical abilities.
Prior to forming the company, he had many successes, and they typically surrounded his ingenuity and his desire to create and build. At the early age of 18, he designed, modeled and built an airplane. He produced a flying bicycle and designed and built his own electric vehicle he branded The Lark.
When it was time to put his skills to work, to make a living wage, he developed a knowledge of building machinery to manufacture electronic components for the military and commercial sectors. He proved also to be successful in establishing a manufacturing facility to house machines, to gain and control full automation of all components.
He was quite an inventor and held 19 patents and secured himself a positive name in the electronic component industry. He fostered in his employees a passion to invent and create. I’ve tried to keep that alive in the employees of today.
In 1983, he experienced health issues and, in 1985, passed away from complications. Prior to his passing, his desire was to have his daughter continue growing the family legacy, which now spans three generations. He brought me into the company in 1984, to learn the business, and I’ve been fortunate to have been able to lead this focused and loyal team of people ever since.
Our people do make what we call “The Delta Difference.” We continue to encourage customer input into our product designs. Our commitment to detail, product development and utilization of lean manufacturing techniques assures our customers competitively priced RF/microwave interconnects and value-added assemblies. Competitively priced and high-quality products are in the forefront of every Delta decision. We are committed to continue the legacy established by my father.
Delta is registered as a Small Women Owned business. How do you maintain the small company position while growing significantly over the years?
Being a company of less than 500 employees allows us to be classified in the small business arena, but that doesn’t mean we don’t grow, expand and innovate. We value our status with the government agencies, and that status allows us to participate in business where we otherwise would not be privy. With over two hundred part numbers qualified to both Mil-PRF-39012 and Mil-PRF-55339, the recognition is valuable but not restrictive. When the time comes to relinquish our small business status, we will, as we don’t wish that to stifle our significant growth plans.
Tell us more about the products you offer.
We offer RF and microwave coaxial connectors in over 100 interface types, including over a dozen that operate at millimeter wave frequencies above 30 GHz. Our high frequency offerings range from blind-mate board mount interconnects like the SMP, SMPM and SMPS to traditional threaded high frequency interfaces such as the 2.92, 2.4 and 1.85 mm.
Delta has a significant catalog of existing products, as well as the ability to rapidly respond to our customers with application-specific products and custom designs. From low-cost MHF connectors, perfect for high volume commercial PCB applications, to high power QDLC connectors for rugged industrial applications, we can offer a product to solve our customers’ RF interconnect challenges: integrated multi-port housings, multi-channel PCB connectors, spring bullets, hermetic surface-mount connectors, high performance adapters, Vita 67 components, terminations, twin-ax and tri-ax connectors.
We produce interconnects in a variety of materials and platings. Our product line includes a significant offering of value-added products, including cable assemblies and other related products. For board-products, we offer tin-dipping options to assure against gold embrittlement issues that could occur without the matching of plating types.
Our wide breadth of capabilities and expertise allow us to provide component to system level interconnect solutions for virtually any coaxial interconnect design roadblock.
What new initiatives are underway for microwave and millimeter wave interconnect applications?
Delta continues to reach out to our customers to stay on the leading edge of designs and innovation. Our engineers sit on industry standards committees to assure we direct input as to how the next-generation connector interfaces are specified. I’m a big believer in listening. If we listen to our customers’ wants, it leads us to the next-generation of product need. One of our strongest areas of growth is in hermetic and gang-mount RF/microwave interconnects. That growth came reacting to our customers.
In our SMPM line, our new hermetic pre-tinned PCB receptacles offer a component that will operate to frequencies above 40 GHz, be mounted without the insulator growth typical in traditional insulated components and avoid problems of gold embrittlement — solving several longstanding industry challenges in one component. Our proprietary solder-dip processes also allow us to tightly control the solder buildup on our PCB components at a level that exceeds other connector manufacturers and insures the easiest assembly possible for our customers.
As connectors get smaller and frequencies get higher, the engineering challenges also increase. A connector that works on one PCB structure may be completely inappropriate for another board just a few thousandths of an inch thicker. At Delta, we customize connector-to-PCB transitions on a customer-by-customer basis, to ensure the board-mount connectors we sell are optimized for the application.
Our vertically integrated structure allows us to design, machine, plate, assemble and test, all in-house. Along with our AS9100 certified quality system, this means repeatable processes across the board, yielding high-quality products every time.
We have also recently increased our cable assembly offerings: introducing new lines, including high frequency cable assemblies tested up to 65 GHz, low-loss phase stable cable assemblies, high power cable assemblies, phase-matched cable assemblies, rugged weatherproof cable assemblies, corrugated cable assemblies, multi-port harnessed cable assemblies and low-cost MHF cable assemblies. Whether it is a 3 in. PCB jumper or a 100 m high power industrial cable, we do it all.
What markets offer you the best growth opportunities, and what’s your view of the outlook for the customers you serve?
The aerospace and military markets are the areas where we see the most positive foreseeable future growth. Of course, the advent of IoT, M2M and the ultimate explosion of 5G are all areas that will continue to evolve and expand. I have a very positive outlook for our future. We are fortunate to be in such an exciting and robust marketplace.
In a crowded market for interconnect products, what differentiates Delta Electronics in the eyes of your customers?
It seems like a cliché, but it is our people, our innovative business approach, our quality products and our communication skills that bring our customers back to us. We truly care about our customers. I believe in the saying that a customer doesn’t really care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them.
You have manufacturing operations in Beverly, Massachusetts and Nanjing, China and a manufacturing partnership in Taiwan. How do these facilities reflect your manufacturing strategy?
We’ve modeled our facilities to be agile and reactive to our customers’ needs. Our plant in China is a mirror image of what we do in Beverly. Our capabilities are strong in the fact that we do our own machining and assembly of the interconnects. In the case of our USA and Taiwan facilities, we have in-house fully automated plating capabilities. Each facility is either AS9100 and/or ISO9000 certified.
You rebranded your company a few years ago. What motivated the change?
I’m glad you asked, as we had many internal discussions about making the switch from the former Delta look to the new rebranded one. There are not many interconnect companies left that began over 60 years ago and remain under the same ownership and brand name. That said, we wanted to let our customer base know that we had celebrated 60 years of business and that we are not resting on those laurels and getting stale.
The “new look” Delta brings the message across with the imagery, feel and verbiage that we are gearing up for the next 60 years. I’m a believer that change is good if it’s for the right reason. I’m very aware that a cultural change is a bold move, as so many people know the old look and wonder what’s different. We let our customers know that nothing has changed except our fresh look. Our people, processes, products and attention to detail remain intact.
At the time of the unveiling of the look and message, we took the lid off our regenerated website, to assure our customer base saw the tangible benefits of the rebrand. Our trade show booth is part of the rebranding, and I’ve been congratulated many times on its look and feel.
Not that we needed it, but the complete rebranding effort was a breath of fresh air into the company.
On your website, your director of quality is quoted as saying, “We encourage our employees to review and rethink their individual jobs regularly in ways that contribute to continual improvement, operational excellence and total customer satisfaction.” Share an example of this.
Several years ago, we invested in lean manufacturing and Six Sigma training for our entire work force. The benefits to our company have been substantial, including streamlining of processes, reduced lead-times, increased productivities, lower cost and better communication company-wide. By removing waste from our processes and minimizing defects, Delta can deliver what our customers want, when they want it. Projects over the years have ranged from small fixture/tooling changes to facility-wide layout changes that improved product flow and reduced costs.
I’m a firm believer in listening to our employees’ ideas. As far as an example to share, I would like to think that small steps in continuous improvement are taken each day, due to employee suggestions and actions. To name a relatively recent success, one of our assembly workers came forth with a concept for fixturing a long running job for us. We listened, implemented and that one action has dropped significant dollars to our bottom line. Our people do make such a difference.
You entered the workforce as a teacher and then found yourself in an entirely different role, running a company. Are there commonalities between teaching and leading a business?
There are definite commonalities between teaching and leading a business. I entered the workforce teaching secondary education — for 12 years. Communication in both settings is essential to create a foundation to learn and succeed.
In business, metrics are used to measure and monitor: on time deliveries, quality levels, scrap, engineering design throughput and customer satisfaction, to name a few. Interaction with employees and customers are vital to ensure success.
In teaching, the same principles can be applied when measuring success or failure of each student. Measuring and monitoring occurs through daily evaluation of schoolwork performance. Tests are given to measure how effective the learning process is for the student. The test results are looked upon as a measurement of the student’s ability, but the results also are a good measurement of the capabilities of the teacher.
In business or education, the goal is to succeed.
Describe your management philosophy and the values you have instilled in this now third-generation family business.
I make a conscious decision to make most long-term and business impact decisions with my close team management members. We have built a team that is working to the same goal. To me, it’s important that I bring those members in to be part of the company path and direction. I encourage my team to carry themselves ethically and to represent the company to the highest standards. This generation of Delta managers — and to that extent all our employees — are encouraged to work together and be true Delta contributors. I’m a proponent of allowing talent to flourish and not try to stifle employee inputs.
As a company, we strive to surpass our competitors in quality, innovation and value. We ensure that our customers receive prompt, friendly and courteous service. We work to provide customers with the most efficient solutions for their applications, with the focus on delivering a quality product with our vertically integrated resources.
My father brought much of that thought process to me. I believe that he would be proud that we have worked this generational philosophy rather successfully, in which all contributions from our team, our customers and business partners are respected and valued.